A delegation of some 40 Jewish and non-Jewish citizens from Lyons and Paris left today for Munich, where it will delivers to Assistant Prosecutor-General M. Rabl a strongly-worded protest against the release from prosecution of former Gestapo commander of the Lyons area, Klaus Barbie. The delegation, which will also appeal before the West German courts, shall present Rabl with new evidence that Barbie knew in detail the fate of those Jews who were deported from Lyons at his orders. Rabl recently stated that no legal procedures should be taken against Barbie as the German courts had found there was no proof that he knew his victims’ fate.
The documents with which the French delegation will try to reopen the Barbie case were patiently gathered by Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, in an unprecedented, independent investigation which started at the offices of the Parisian Center for Contemporary Jewish Research. Digging into virtually tons of uncatalogued documents, the Klarsfelds found several papers signed by Barbie referring directly to the deportee’s fate. From these alone, it appears that Barbie now reported living in exile in South America, knew he was sending the Jews to their death.
Furthermore, some documents mentioned a Jew, Kurt Schendel, who knew of the whole affair. A former Jewish-German lawyer, Schendel had left Germany after the Nazi takeover of 1933 to establish himself in France. After the French surrender to the Germans. Schendel served as liaison officer between the UGIF (General Union of French Jews) and the Department of Jewish Affairs of the Gestapo. In the years 1943-44 Schendel was familiar with the Barbie activities. An inquiry into Schendel’s fate, through the offices of the Association of Jews from Germany and France, showed he was still alive and stayed in France after the war.
After being approached by the Klarsfelds, Schendel told how he had been present when some leaders of the Lyons Jewish community had protested to Barbie, after a number of incidents in which Jews had been shot in Lyons. “Shot or deported, the fate of these Jews is the same,” was said to have been Barbie’s answer. Shortly there-after the Jewish community leaders were deported themselves. Schendel himself lived to tell the tale, and his declaration will be an additional piece of evidence to be shown tomorrow by the delegation to Rabl and the rest of the West German authorities. The delegation includes an Assistant Mayor of Lyons and an Assistant Mayor of the Lyons suburb. Villeurdanne.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.